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Embedding Numeracy Activities in Vocational Further Education Courses Workshop 240617

Embedding numeracy activities in vocational further education courses

Presenter: Dr Graham Hall, Course tutor, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, Dolgellau, Wales

Students entering courses in further education may lack both the mathematical skills for successful course completion and the motivation to develop these skills, due to poor experiences of learning mathematics at school. Numeracy tutors at a college in Wales have conducted research into effective methods of delivering embedded mathematics across a range of subjects.

Following the Wolf review (2011), there has been a move away from a Key Skills award in numeracy, with the introduction of compulsory resitting of GCSE Mathematics for further education students below grade C standard. We consider that this has been an unsuccessful experiment. We instead recommend that a revised Key Skills qualification is introduced, with students demonstrating their competence by creating a portfolio of relevant work during vocational courses.

Examples will be given of embedding numeracy in areas such as: engineering, construction, business studies, and health and social care.  We have made use of a framework proposed by Tang, Sui, & Wang (2003). Five approaches are identified, representing a progression from applications set by the teacher, through increasing student involvement in the solution of real world problems, to totally independent project work:

After learning a mathematical technique, students apply this to an ill-defined real-world problem to develop skills in the practical use of numeracy in a realistic vocational context.

Special Subject
After studying a vocational topic, students explore the topic further using mathematical modelling.

Investigation Report
Students carry out an investigation involving the collection of primary data through measurement or surveys, and develop skills in its analysis.

Paper Discussion
Students are presented with a problem which needs to be solved using an unfamiliar mathematical technique.  Information about the technique is provided and students are asked to teach themselves.  The objective is to develop independent learning skills.

Mini Scientific Research
Students design and develop their own project to investigate a problem of genuine interest within their vocational field. The objective is to develop problem solving and research skills.

Participants will be invited to share ideas about using these approaches for integrating numeracy into courses with their own students and support to develop ideas for numeracy projects within their vocational field.

Useful Resources

The session is based on Chapter 3: Embedding numeracy activities of the book:

Hall G. & Slaney S. (2016) Developing Numeracy in Further Education. Lulu Press. Available online: www.grahamhall.org/FEnumeracy/

and the paper:

Hall, G. (2014) Integrating Real-World Numeracy Applications and Modelling into Vocational Courses. Adults Learning Mathematics, 9(1). Available online: http://www.grahamhall.org/FEnumeracy/

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